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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (1-19-03)

It's fun and easy to bash drivers. But if you want Americans to save gas, says John Valenti, tell the government to insist on higher fuel economy averages

This is Walter Locke. This is the Hummer H2 he is going to sell for $57,555. It's big. It's sunset orange. It weighs 6,400 pounds and gets 10 miles to a gallon of gas in a stiff tailwind. Locke considers himself a good American. He has a wife, kids. He pays his taxes. He has a brother-in-law who was in the Army, another who was in the Navy and another, the Marines. His father was in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. And no matter what pundit Arianna Huffington and three of her Hollywood cronies from The Detroit Project say in a new anti-sport-utility vehicle campaign, Walter Locke does not support terrorism.

This is Paulina Gonzalez. This is her Dodge Durango. It is big. And black. It uses a lot of gas. . . . She has four kids and just turned 30. She doesn't support terrorism.

This is the copy for one of the advertisements in the controversial national advertising campaign The Detroit Project launched this month to make Americans consider that buying SUVs is unpatriotic:

"This is George. This is the gas that George bought for his SUV. This is the oil company executive that sold the gas that George bought for his SUV. These are the countries where the executive bought the oil, that made the gas that George bought for his SUV. And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV.

"Oil money supports some terrible things. What kind of mileage does your SUV get?"

This is what Huffington said about the ads: "The goal of the campaign is not to demonize people who drive SUVs. We want to point out how our driving habits are fueling oil money to Saudi Arabia."

This is the translation: Americans drive a lot of SUVs. Those SUVs waste a lot of gas. A lot of that gas is refined from oil that comes from the Middle East. Which means we are dependent on foreign oil. Because of that, we might invade Iraq. We will do so under the guise of waging a war on terrorism. We do it to protect our interests -- i.e., our access to oil.

What Huffington does is make a good point with a bad argument. She uses terrorism because it is controversial. She did this to get our attention.

Which she did, maybe for the first time since the last Gulf war. Maybe for the first time since we had odd and even days and mile-long lines at gas stations around the nation during the 1973 gas crisis.

Which is good.

What the real argument is is this: Politicians in Washington have refused to tighten the CAFE standard, which stands for "Corporate Average Fuel Economy." That means the average miles-per-gallon for every vehicle we drive in the United States. The average was 22.4 miles per gallon in 1988. The number has been in decline since, as we buy more light trucks and SUVs. It is now around 20 mph.

Then again, we are Americans. We grew up thinking bigger is better. We buy big cars and trucks because they make us feel more comfortable. Safer. More important. We buy them because we can.

Because, as Walter Locke said, "The Hummer H2 says 'testosterone' right on the side. Doesn't it?"

Automakers have the technology to make these vehicles more fuel-efficient, too. They have the ability to make so-called "hybrid" vehicles -- cars and trucks that use minimal amounts of gasoline and produce electricity to drive their engines. Ford will introduce a hybrid SUV in 2004. Lexus has one on the way. Other manufacturers will follow soon.

But, change will be slow because there is not as much profit in building hybrids. Because the federal government -- President Bush -- could demand the CAFE standard be raised to 30 miles per gallon, something most advocates believe is reasonable. Because the federal government won't.

It won't because it is bad politics. Because, despite its recent economic struggles, Detroit car manufacturers still fuel the economy of our nation.

As do the oil companies.

This is Jim Motavalli. He wrote two books. One is called "Forward Drive: The Race to Build 'Clean' Cars for the Future." The other is "Breaking Gridlock: Moving Toward Transportation that Works." Both were published by the Sierra Club, the environmental watchdog group.

He is the editor of E: The Environmental Magazine and argues that Americans don't need SUVs. Motavalli says that if everyone who drove an SUV or light truck drove a car instead we would no longer need foreign oil.

That is dubious, because foreign oil is still cheaper than domestic -- and we are capitalists.

Still, an estimated 45 percent to 50 percent of all new vehicles sold are SUVs or light trucks, accounting for 39.3 percent of all vehicles on our roads. So, a change would certainly reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

"Our rate of consumption is the highest in the world," Motavalli said. "We have 5 percent of the population, but consume 30 percent of the natural resources. . . . I think the ads are strategically smart, because unless you sensationalize an issue like this people will basically ignore it. Now, we're not."

My name is John. I write a road column for Newsday. I own a Jeep. It gets about 15 miles per gallon. One of my grandfathers served as deputy commissioner of public works for New York City. He built roads I've driven on. My other grandfather built parts for the lunar module that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon.

I do not support terrorism. No more than any other driver of any other vehicle here.

Still, I wish car manufacturers would give me a sport utility vehicle that got better mileage. So I wouldn't use so much gasoline, but could still be protected in an accident, still get to where I need to go in rain, sleet and snow. One that still had horsepower, so I could still have fun behind the wheel.

I know for that to happen Washington will have to demand we tighten the CAFE standard, will have to demand changes in thinking in Detroit.

Hello. Is anybody listening?
 

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Who wrote that?

Les see, he wants his Jeep, and wants to keep it the same;

" . . . , but could still be protected in an accident, still get to where I need to go in rain, sleet and snow. One that still had horsepower, so I could still have fun behind the wheel."

Biut wants better milage, and things that Goverment raising the CAFE standards would do that.

Get real, get a life, and figure out that technology move foreward at a slow steady pace, and the goverments pushing typically just stows things down!

OK, Stepping off my soap box! :2:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The Detroit Project

<a href="http://www.americansforfuelefficientcars.org"><img src="http://www.americansforfuelefficientcars.org/images/button_stopterror.gif" width="123" height="105" border="0"></a>

<a href="http://www.americansforfuelefficientcars.org"><img src="http://www.americansforfuelefficientcars.org/images/button_terrorSUV.jpg" width="194" height="95">></a>
 

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We did our part!:p We sold the Pilot and got an Accord.:rolleyes: :p ;)

But at every stop light, I will keep constant pressure on the gas and keep my engine revving to match the amount of pollution a comparable SUV would create!:D :p

Alright, I'm obviously joking around here.

Man, these folks need a reality check. SUV = Terrorist Funding Vehicle, damn, lucky for these morons that we have the freedom of speech.;)
 

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when did SUV's become the only vehicle on the road that uses an oil based product to make it run? Maybe they should tell the Army to sell all their Hummers and get Accords or Civics. Or lets stop the trucking industry and all airplanes.

Yea I know they are saying SUV's are just the worst public problem. I just think they are going about it all wrong.

Stupid People Rock :32: :twak:
 

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As for the terrorism aspect, there are oil companies that do not purchase oil from the Middle East. (I only purchase Sunoco here in Ohio, which does not purchase ANY oil from the Middle East.)

It's about time we began utilizing our own oil, especially up in Alaska.

Another thought...the Pilot gets about the same mileage as some minivans. Yet I have yet to see an ad against the minivan. Or some of the exotic sports running on premium...
 

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Lets see;

They ship us oil, which has real value, and we send them USD ($) (Paper).

I like this deal.

Al we need is some inflation to devalue there stash of USD!
 

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These kind of argument are ludicrous! Just like very business that wanted to be connected to homeland security, if you want to against anything, make it connect to terrorism. Even it is not fit very well, just make more turns and you will get there one way or the other. It is easy and it is cheap!

I don't blame the Jeep guy that much, basically that's all we wanted. However, the way he think that lead us there is too simple and too naive, and/or, lack of basic physics sense. Raise the CAFE bar will not fix the problem at this time but kill the auto industry.

I don't mind those environmentalist keep pressure on the government to improve the gas mileage of the SUV, but linking SUV driver to terrorism supporter is too much. Those who think it might gain more ground by doing this, listen to this: You lost my vote!
 

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Re: Lets see;

N_Jay said:
Al we need is some inflation to devalue there stash of USD!
Did I really type that????

All we need is some inflation to de-value their stash of USD!
 

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My Pilot is averaging 20mpg after 3 tanks. My 98 Sienna which i traded in for the Pilot was getting 17mpg. You're exactly right, what about the mini-vans? what about pre-smog cars (here in CA)? trucks? etc etc. I guess its easier for these people just to single out one group instead of addressing the root of the issue. And I won't even go there....
 

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I don't understand the focus on SUV's and their fuel consumption. There are plenty of luxury cars that require premium fuel and get fewer mpg than many small or mid-size SUV's.

What about the semi's that run hundreds of empty miles per year to position trailers - while getting 6 mpg?

What about the CEO's, Presidents & VP's flying to meetings in corporate jets?

What about the older homes with inefficient fuel oil heating systems?

What about the retired couples traveling around the country in their RV's?

I think SUV bashing is a simple case of idiots getting attention from the news media. And the media loves making us all feel guilty or unsafe about the vehicles we drive or the food we eat! I like the Pilot, but if I wanted (or could afford) a bigger SUV, an RV, or a private jet for that matter, I'd buy it. Frankly, I don't give a damn what they think!
 

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foxhallow said:
What about the semi's that run hundreds of empty miles per year to position trailers - while getting 6 mpg?

What about the CEO's, Presidents & VP's flying to meetings in corporate jets?

What about the older homes with inefficient fuel oil heating systems?
And what about huge homes, like the ones Arianna Huffington and her co-conspirator Laurie David (wife of TV's Larry David) presumably live in? What do they use to heat and cool and illuminate those homes? Where does the water for their swimming pools come from? :rolleyes:
 

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Re: Re: Lets see;

N_Jay said:


Did I really type that????

All we need is some inflation to de-value their stash of USD!

Uhhhh. - Yea - You did. We ignored you. ;)
 

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tracy said:

And what about huge homes, like the ones Arianna Huffington and her co-conspirator Laurie David (wife of TV's Larry David) presumably live in? What do they use to heat and cool and illuminate those homes? Where does the water for their swimming pools come from? :rolleyes:
The United States DOES consume a disproportionate amount of the world's energy resources, oil included.

Having said that, Huffington and others jumping on the BASH SUVs bandwagon are riding it down a slippery slope.

The SUV is an easy target for indignation over amount of energy they consume in fulfilling a basic need---transportation. I mean, conceivably, many of us could switch to driving 40 mpg highly fuel efficient subcompacts, right? It wouldn't really hurt us.

In fact, just as conceivably, the BASH SUV proponents could vacate their cushy 3,000 sq ft and up homes and McMansions and, to save energy and bring dwelling space in line with the rest of the world's, relocate to "Smart-Growth" infill apartments. While we're at it, things like pleasure motorboats are not essential to living our daily lives, so let's outlaw them---when you're talking reducing oil consumption, you need to curtail every excess that's not fundamental to our well-being. Maybe a little more oil could be saved by outlawing Christmas/holiday lights in both homes and businesses. I mean, you really should consume energy for purely basic lighting purposes like, seeing to get around, right?!! Oh my goodness, I'm on a roll and just getting started! etc. etc.

Anyway, I don't mean to go overboard with my tongue-in-cheek tirade or get silly. It just seems to me that it's a bit disingenuous to single out SUVs and their "greedy owners" for a national guilt trip as excessive consumers of oil who are playing a role in fomenting terrorism and holding us hostage to the world politics of oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There are two sides to the SUV debate coin

Wojciech Kic Special To Houston Business Journal

An extravagant monster, the SUV — or sport utility vehicle — rules the American road.

The debate over this immensely popular vehicle rages on. To some, the high gasoline consumption of the vehicle is a symbol of decadent waste. To others, the large size of the vehicle is a symbol of status and safety. What is notably absent in the SUV debate is the discussion of its utility.

To properly evaluate the SUV debate, one must make an objective and simple comparison between a typical SUV and an alternative, such as a two-door Volkswagen.

In a nutshell, the typical 2002 SUV model burns about a gallon every 12 miles. A VW gets about 24 miles per gallon.

At an average monthly driving rate of 1,000 miles, the SUV burns approximately 83 gallons of gas. A VW burns approximately 41 gallons of gas.

Thus, the VW burns less gas. At $1.50 per gallon the owner of the SUV spends $63 a month more on gas than the owner of the VW.

All other mechanical things about the SUV and VW being equal, are there functions of an SUV that a VW does not provide?

The owner of an SUV during a typical December can transport a Christmas tree home in one trip. She can also purchase and deliver about 100 pots of poinsettias for her neighbors and friends. Her husband can move household items (television sets, appliances) without the embarrassment of a request for a favor from a truck-owning co-worker or a high-dollar delivery fee. Also, the ability to transport these items actually saves gas consumption that a delivery vehicle would require.

For example, if the SUV owner purchases a 30-inch television, he can take it directly from the store to his home. This requires one trip to the store and one trip home.

A VW owner who purchases the same television cannot transport the set home in one trip. He would either have to have it delivered, or borrow a truck and return to the store and pick it up himself. This would mean two trips back and forth. Therefore, gas consumption would be equal to or higher than its SUV counterpart.

In another example, if the SUV owner's child is a Little Leaguer, eight teammates can be delivered to a game in one trip by one parent, thus saving two or three other vehicles the same trip. In review, a VW two-door model does not yield any of the above functions that the SUV provides.

The value of each one of the above functions well exceeds $63. Thus if an owner of an SUV engages in more than one "cargo carrying" monthly function he quickly realizes a "profit" when compared to the owner of a VW. As a consequence, individually, the owner of an SUV behaves rationally.

But that's not all. When an owner of an SUV carries a group of kids to a soccer game he saves the valuable time of other parents, as well as their vehicles' wear and gas consumption. Collectively, these owners also have lower costs of commuting to Little League games. Thus, the owners of SUVs behave rationally as a community. The $63 advantage becomes meaningless when the utility factor is introduced.

This raises a real question of why Americans realize the profits and advantages of SUVs and others do not.

The answer lies in differing concepts of utility. It is utility that accounts for the formidable growth of the United States economy. It is utility that accounts for fast-food restaurants and drive-thru banks. It is utility that brings about the construction of 16-lane highways, air travel and high-tech communication devices. It is utility that money and credit creates, that is solely accountable for a negative savings rate.

Utility means a 24/7/365 economy. Utility means there is no economic scarcity except wasted time. For Americans, the pursuit of utility equals freedom.

In America, personal utility consists of a maximum level of self-investment that yields maximum individual progress within the society. A maximum self-investment, in turn, yields the maximum progress of society as a whole.

Europeans, for example, may see the financial advantage of an SUV, but only as vehicles for farmers, construction workers or truckers. They would never consider owning an SUV as a family vehicle. An SUV is considered a work vehicle. They would never imagine driving such a vehicle from a construction job to a fine restaurant.

Hence, to the world, American largesse has no visible source.

But if the SUV aids economic growth, what happens during a time of high fuel costs? What if the cost of gas increases by a multiple of 10? If the cost of gas increases, when compared to all other vehicles, the utility of an SUV will also increase. That utility, in turn, depresses the cost of fuel.

If the high cost of gas increases utility in America, why does it seem that the low cost of fuel is in the American interest? Low fuel costs are solely in the global interest — a substantial increase in the cost of fuel leaves the world without the utility to absorb it. For the American utility economy, the cost of fuel is irrelevant.

Thus in the SUV debate, let's keep in mind that the lack of personal utility for an SUV is supported by the SUV utility of those that need it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The Real Debate Over SUVs Is No Different Than Debates on Most Other Issues

There's some real hatred out there for SUV owners.

By GREGORY J. RUMMO FOR THE DAILY RECORD
Every Saturday this year, I have hiked from seven to fifteen miles through the highlands in northern Morris County. I love nature and “The Great Outdoors.” But when the hike is over, I appreciate driving home on modern, paved roads in my big, roomy 8-cylinder German SUV. Once home, I enjoy the modern conveniences of such things as running water and electricity, which together allows me to brew fresh, hot coffee and write columns like this one on my laptop. I’m a tree-hugging conservative, if such a thing exists. All things in moderation-I love nature and I love my SUV.

I think this grows out of an understanding about sources of power in general. Electricity, for example, may seem like a clean fuel but it must be generated somewhere-its not just waiting in the wall to jump out into an appliance. And unless the generating source is a hydro-plant, a fossil fuel like coal, oil or natural gas is being burned or uranium is undergoing fission in a reactor in someone’s backyard.

Living in an industrialized nation, we cannot escape our voracious appetite for the consumption of natural resources in ways that are often detrimental to the environment. Like it or not—and we Americans love it—this is our way of life and frankly, it’s impossible to be a pure environmentalist in the Western World without some element of hypocrisy.

This rationale is lost on the extreme fringe of the environmental movement, whose ideas to save the planet include things like burying your car, not using toilet paper and refusing to purchase anything that comes in a box. They are an angry group of malcontents who hate everything. How could they possibly love the earth? Their raison d’etre is the trashing of American capitalist icons such as McDonald’s and Starbucks. These people should be ignored.

We all want clean air and water but none of us, with the possible exception of the Amish, wants to live by candlelight or give up our cars in favor of shoveling horse manure from city streets or go back to the days when water might have tasted better but you developed a hernia hauling it back to your house in a bucket from a well or a local spring creek.

If we are really honest with ourselves, we have to admit that none of us wants to be inconvenienced by radical changes in our lifestyle when it comes to the consumption of energy. Ask the folks in California if you have any doubt. We’ll shut off a light or lower a thermostat. We’ll even pay more for gasoline at the pump (where the prices are still not at all-time highs when adjusted for inflation) but we demand the right to keep driving the automobile of our choice—even if it’s an SUV or an 8-cylinder BMW. This is America after all, and things like freedom and the pursuit of happiness are ideals for which a lot of people bled and died.

It is this balanced way of American life that President Bush acknowledged last month when he announced his energy policy. Most knee-jerk Democrats like Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle piled on, trashing it publicly by characterizing it as radical and irresponsible despite the fact that Bush’s National Energy Policy addresses “Protecting America’s Environment,” “Using Energy Wisely,” and “Nature’s Power” in three of the longer chapters comprising almost 50% of the main body of the of the 171 page document. While the Democrats bank on most Americans never bothering to read the plan for themselves , they are missing the heartbeat of the nation on this issue big time. They may be forced to pay for their mistake dearly, not at the gas pump, but at the voting booth in 2002 when Congress and one-third of the Senate face re-election.

The media hasn’t done a very thorough job of analyzing Bush’s National Energy Policy. It’s easier to whip up hysteria over such things as last month’s report about the nation’s average gas mileage hitting a 20-year low, dropping to 24 miles per gallon. SUVs were blamed, of course, and to be fair, it’s probably a reasonable assumption given the number of them on the roads especially here in New Jersey. But let’s put that into perspective.

The SUV of today is hardly a “gas guzzler.” When I was a kid—longer than 20 years ago—I remember my friend’s station wagon getting something like 4 mpg. The carburetor (remember them?) was fed gasoline through a fuel line the diameter of garden hose. The exhaust smelled rich from unburned hydrocarbons as the catalytic converter had not yet been invented. Just about every car on the road was a real pig—they had to be—they were made of tons of thick steel. But the development of plastics and lighter-weight alloys coupled with more fuel-efficient engines and catalytic converters has more than quadrupled the fuel efficiency of the automobile over the last 40 years while reducing harmful exhaust emissions. “Better living through chemistry”—that’s what the headline should have been.

In 1994 we bought our first SUV—a Jeep Grand Cherokee. We made the purchase out of necessity because we believed a 4-wheel drive vehicle was safer during the winters, which in northern Morris County, given the elevation, can be colder and snowier than other nearby towns, which are closer to sea level. But what if we purchased an SUV simply because we liked the styling, the plush leather seats and the 10-speaker 200-watt stereo—to “pursue happiness” in other words. Shouldn’t that be our business, and not something I find myself defending on the opinion page of The Daily Record?

There’s some real hatred out there for SUV owners.

Just last week some idiot merged from the Palisades Parkway on to I-87 by pulling out in front of me. He cut me off and I flashed my headlights to let him know I thought he got his driver’s license by mailing $0.50 and two “Wheaties” boxtops to General Mills. He refused to accelerate to highway speed, so I changed lanes and passed him. I quickly shot a glance over at him, wanting to imprint upon my mind what an idiot looks like and he cordially waved to me with his middle finger. SUV envy, no doubt.

I know what fuels the antipathy towards SUVs. It’s not the SUVs themselves people hate, it’s the yahoos that seem to be behind the wheels of a large percentage of them. To this charge I plead innocent, but I know where the critics are coming from.

The first time out in a snowstorm, I noticed it myself. There were a lot of other 4-wheel drive vehicles on the highway whose drivers lacked an appreciation for the simple laws of physics. Inertia dictates that a body in motion will remain in motion. To put it in layman’s terms, no matter how many wheels are receiving power from the engine, when it comes time to stop on an icy or a snow covered road, all vehicles are created equal. You can’t drive at the posted speed limit in a snowstorm and expect to stop on a dime simply because you have traction to all four wheels.

SUVs have unfortunately taken the blame when it’s the irresponsible and immature adults behind the wheel who should be in the hot seat for thinking they were invincible. It’s sort of like the debate on guns or cell phones in automobiles. Guns don’t kill people, lunatics pull the trigger and give guns a bad reputation. Similarly, there is no need to pass new laws banning cell phone usage from automobiles. The police should simply enforce existing laws for reckless driving—and believe me—I have seen plenty of examples of people talking on cell phones who should have been pulled over and issued a summons.

In the end, the debate over SUVs is really like most other debates. It really does come down to nature—human nature. n
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Detroit Project suggested letter to your congressman

I am an American eager to do my part to protect national security. Because much of our oil comes from countries known to have ties with terrorists, I believe one of the most important ways to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil is to increase the fuel efficiency of our vehicles.

The math is simple: there are 20 million SUVs on our roads today that get an average of 8 to 15 miles per gallon. This adds up to millions of barrels of imported oil each day. If we continue to pump that kind of money into countries where terrorism thrives, we are funding the next 9-11.

One way out of this national security dilemma is to invest more in fuel economy.

I am committed to purchasing the most fuel-efficient car that meets my needs. I ask that you, as our nation's business and political leaders, meet me halfway by offering American-made cars, trucks, and SUVs that get significantly higher miles to the gallon.

As a citizen and a voter, I urge you to protect American lives by leading us towards energy independence. Specifically, you need to take the following three steps:

1. Increase fuel efficiency standards for SUVs by at least 10 miles per gallon in the next five years.
2. Voice strong support for and help pass the bill introduced last year by Senators John Kerry and John McCain.
3. Stop spending millions of dollars lobbying to defeat efforts to increase fuel efficiency standards and spend that money instead to develop, market and advertise fuel-efficient vehicles.

We as a nation can do better. And for our national security, we must do better. We need your leadership, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit on this issue. Flag waving is great, but patriotic display is not a substitute for patriotic action. For my part, I'm prepared to give up my gas-guzzling vehicle. What are you prepared to do?
 

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All started as a parody

The original anti-SUV ads were supposed to be a parody of the ONDCP ads that equated buying illegal drugs in the U.S. with funding central and south american dictators and the like. A fine parody, maybe a good point, but not good logic.

The Detroit Project is overblown, but is just a response to the anti-SUV sentiment Huffington stumbled into but didn't create. That its become "popular" doesn't make the logic any better, though.

I'm certain that the Pilot with it's ULEV emissions and decent gas mileage is above the average U.S. vehicle (let alone a '74 VW microbus covered with Nader/Laduke stickers) in negative effects, so I sleep just fine.
 

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Re: The Real Debate Over SUVs Is No Different Than Debates on Most Other Issues

Older than dirt said:
There's some real hatred out there for SUV owners.

By GREGORY J. RUMMO FOR THE DAILY RECORD

Rummo's article mirrors my thoughts about the SUV issue and related issues pertaining to energy consumption.

I think almost everyone supports the quest to squeeze more out of the same amount of resources expended, but there's a limit to how much compromise in performance, comfort, etc., the majority of U.S. consumers will be willing to accept.
 

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I'm a terrorist?

I suppose for the next few years I should own TWO cars and drive to family outings separately from my husband dividing up our three kids because we all wont fit into that one small economical car that they expect all Americans to drive. Or maybe I should hire a driver for those days when my husband isn't available to drive?

This makes good sense? Two cars using gas, two cars polluting?

I represent a large demographic of larger families with no other vehichle options and I'm not a terrorist!

If you want to get deeper into it, what about those who can't afford the newer more efficient vehicles? I can barely afford mine, because I willingly left work to be a good stay at home mom. Yep, I supported those terrorists alright. Whatever.

:3:
 
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